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The Ponderings of a Pedaling Pastor

The Ponderings of a Pedaling Pastor


So why a sabbatical? I figure that’s a great place to start this blog. Sabbaticals have been around academia for a long time for professors to take some time away to recharge, learn something new, and focus on an area of study that will benefit their teaching. People in academia don’t even question “why?” But it does get asked by people in the church. So there’s a lot of educating people that this isn’t a 3 month vacation. It’s intended to be a time away for renewal, reflection, and to recharge for ministry. Why is that time important? Well, just do a google search on “clergy burn-out” and you’ll see lots of reasons why. It’s honestly shocking to see how few seminary educated pastors make it past 5 years in ministry. Burn-out happens in lots of different professions, but it seems to happen at an extremely high percentage within the church. For me, it’s not just the fact that as a pastor I live in a “fishbowl,” or that I am always expected to be “on” and “available.” For me, it’s the burden of “emotional knowledge.” Not only is it expected of me to carry the burdens of my individual congregants, but also to be carrying their burdens for their family as well. Whereas businesses and corporations have an HR department to handle individuals, a pastor has an entire congregation. And that gets heavy! And if you stay in any one place for a number of years (like say 15 as I have) it gets extremely heavy. So, a sabbatical is one way for the congregation to return “care and love” back to the pastor that has cared and loved it. The Lily Foundation in Indiana figures that out in 1999 and has been providing grants to congregations since 1999. So, a sabbatical is a gift from the congregation to the pastor, and benefits both in that the pastor gets time to be eased of the perpetual burden carrying, and the congregation gets a recharged and renewed pastor to continue leading them in their mission and ministry. This is probably an oversimplification of a sabbatical, but it hopefully answers the question of why. Next blog... how St.Luke’s in Marietta developed a sabbatical plan and why it’s incredible that a congregation of its size is able to pull it of